Two days, four towns: How barong shopping in Lumban turned into a Laguna mini-tour


We were in four Laguna towns Friday night and yesterday: Los Baños, Lumban, Pagsanjan, and Sta. Cruz. I guess this is our version of a pre-Valentine’s Day date?

In Elbi, handed over invitations to our former teachers/sponsors. Then we met up with some orgmates.

My first glimpse of Freedom Park in at least two years. My elbi days still count among the happiest memories of my life.
Ranie and I met for the first time in this classroom, for a SPCM class, 12 years ago. We sat in the back, were trying out for the debate org at the same time, and partners for our final project. But we didn’t start dating until more than a year after!
Had dinner with a few resident members of the debate society + fellow alumni Kyla (in purple). We caught up on a lot of stories over beer afterwards.

In Lumban we bought Ranie’s barong. He’s always been dead set on getting an authentic one, straight from the source. It was perfect timing as he had a 2-day workshop in UPLB (and I’m working remote / pretty much anywhere these days).

Some updated notes on getting a barong in Lumban: From Los Baños, Lumban is only 90 minutes away via the Sta. Cruz bus route, then a 10-15 minute jeep ride. After the 2nd bridge, you’ll start seeing barong and gown shops left and right of the National Highway.

I found sources online that the good destinations are in Rizal Street, near the city market / plaza. As for us, all Ranie had in mind were specifics of what he wanted (piña, intricate but not too fancy embroidery). We actually found it in the first shop we entered, called Magano. Ranie usually struggles w/ formal wear in his usual size (M) because the sleeves always end up being a tad short, but Magano had a M-L size (Medium-Large) that fit him perfectly. I also loved his choice as the detail was beautiful yet subtle — very pogi. 🙂 The barong only cost P3000 – that’s 50 to 70% cheaper than a ready made barong in Kultura or Rustan’s. It also came with 2 free inner shirts already!

To be fair, we did check out a couple more stores after our purchase, but Ranie was already v. happy with his barong. In one shop, I actually saw a work in progress of a barong being embroidered w/ the colado style, but then got too shy to snap a photo because we weren’t buying anything. It’s amazing that handmade traditions still find a way to thrive in this day and age.

My soon-to-be groom 🙂 This was one of the initial options, but Ranie’s final choice had a different color and design.

Since we wrapped up our errand pretty quickly, we did a bit of walking around Lumban’s streets. Lumban feels so quiet compared to other Laguna towns I’ve been to.

Posing among some columns 🙂
San Sebastian stone church, Lumban


Bumbungan River, which empties out onto Laguna de Bay
Ranie doing a bit of posing as well. 🙂

After an hour or so, we took another jeep to Pagsanjan, where we ate a late lunch at Calle Arko. The food was super affordable and pretty much good. The highlight of our meal was pako (fern) salad w/ white cheese and sweet vinagrette. Such a simple yet amazing dish.

Pako salad! So easy to make, yet so delicious.
The shop’s owner collects beautiful tea pots such as this one
Contemporary artwork complementing the antique decor and furniture. A bit gaudy, but charming nonetheless.

We asked the waiter where to get pako (my mom loves it). They told us they get it in Sta. Cruz market. Perfect, we thought, that’s where we’ll take the bus. So right after the meal, we took yet another jeep to Sta. Cruz market. But it was so hard to find pako in the afternoon — all the stalls have run out! We did find two last bundles with a street vendor. I grabbed it all.

Now, my body is aching all over and I seem to be nursing a slight fever. After two months of remote work + a couple of weeks of baby sitting in between, I am… exhausted. Funny because I left my previous job to be less so!

There is so much that needs to be done. Both in work and for personal life. I wish I could feel more steady, to appreciate the options and privileges I have and to maximize them so that I don’t slip into an overwhelmed state again.

For today I’ll try to rest. These photos will be a reminder of why I’m doing all of this, what it allows me to do, and why it’s worth it.


Rare Birds in Bintan!

What a way to start 2018! Spent last week in the beautiful island of Bintan in Indonesia  with my new officemates — though it’s weird to call them that since we live thousands of miles from each other and coordinate daily through Slack and Zoom.

Continue reading “Rare Birds in Bintan!”

San Juan

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There’s more the Surftown than surfing. During our last weekend there, we also made side trips to Ma Cho Temple, the plaza pagoda, and had the famous Ilokano halo halo.

Surftown Sidetrip

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48 hours of pure, stress-free magic ❤

Worked on our goofys and paddles too (will share once we actually get the hang of it).


The in-betweens. Baguio, September 7-8.

Nagsasa Cove, May 2017

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Hiking to the hilltop, Nagsasa Cove

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Capones Island, Zambales

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Mt. Daguldol and Laiya

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Lent in Iriga, April 2017

Spent the long break in Camarines Sur with Ranie’s family. It was four restful days of churches, lots of sleeping and reading, and eating Ranie’s mom’s homecooked meals. We also went to Balatan beach, the only one in the Rinconada area of Camsur. Continue reading “Lent in Iriga, April 2017”